Shute Shield Scandals: Linesman & Ballboys sent off, player decked during God Save The Queen

By Jon Geddes

IT was one of the most incredible moments in the colourful history of the Shute Shield – the afternoon the fired-up linesman and ballboy got too involved in the action and were sent off by the referee.

The drama happened in the days when clubs provided the linesmen and the man running the flag for Gordon on the afternoon in question was a fellow named Jimmy Baker.

And little could anyone at Chatswood Oval that Saturday have anticipated the incredible incident that they would witness.       

“Gordon was playing Randwick and a bit of a fracas occurred right under the grandstand where all the Gordon faithful were gathered,” legendary rugby scribe Norman Tasker recounted at the 100th Anniversary lunch for Rugby News.

“Dennis Cleary a Randwick secondrower of some note managed to somehow, accidently of course, find his boot in the face of the Gordon goalkicking prop John Sheeran.

“Whereupon Johnny Baker in close proximity ran onto the field and belted Cleary with his flag.”

For good measure the Gordon ballboy threw the ball into Cleary’s face.

Ron Meagher, who later became Randwick president, was the referee who made his name into rugby folklore.

“He sent off Cleary, but he also sent off the touch judge and he sent off the ballboy,” Tasker said. “Jimmy Baker got life, not from rugby, but just from touch judging.”

Tasker had to write a story about the incident the following Monday and rang the Gordon president and asked “what are you going to do about this?”

To which the president replied: “We are going to get Jimmy a bigger flag.”

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK    

ANOTHER great Shute Shield scandal which occurred at Chatswood Oval involved Ken Yanz, a backrower who played for the Wallabies.

In his biography on the Classic Wallabies website it says: “Ken Yanz was a big, tough and intimidating loose forward who terrorised Sydney’s inside backs during the 1950s.”

Tasker said that was the age of Empire and great loyalty to the Crown.

“They used to play God Save The Queen at the end of every game,” Tasker said.

“On this particular day Gordon had been playing University and it was a particularly hard game -and Ken Yanz was the hardest of them all, he was a pretty wild guy.”

After the fulltime whistle everyone was standing to attention as the band started to play God Save The Queen.

“Ken Yanz was standing there rigid and he sees the guy next to him who he had been having some kind of altercation with on the field,” Tasker said. “While everyone was quiet and pre-occupied he punched him and dropped him like a stone.”

Yanz went straight back to attention with his hands by his side and no one said anything while the poor Sydney University player lay prone on the ground.

“The anthem finishes and of course then there is a bit of mayhem and Ken Yanz got suspended,” Tasker said.

“And that was the last time the anthem was ever played at Chatswood Oval.”  

 THE RUGBY BACKS CHOIR 

AND you wonder why forwards hate backs?

At that Rugby News luncheon, the great Wallaby, NSW and Randwick backrower Simon Poidevin recalled a day in Taranaki when the Waratahs were training while on tour in New Zealand with Peter “Charlie” Crittle as coach.

“There was fog and it was a real regional sort of ground and Crittle had massively flogged the forwards, torturing us.” Poidevin recalled.

The pack was sucking in the big ones with steam rising off their jerseys as they moved to the other end of the field to join the backs.

“And there was (Brett) Papworth, Mark Ella and co. standing in a circle singing ’My Baby Takes The Morning train’,” Poidevin said.

Ella told his mate Poidevin it was a ball handling drill “something you should have made yourself more familiar with.”

Read the full stories and many more like them in the 100 Years of Rugby News book, available now via this link!